A happy and healthy World Mental Health Day to you all! I know, not quite as exciting as Christmas but equally (or some could make a good argument for more) important. 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health illnesses during their lives, meaning if you don’t suffer personally chances are you know several people who do. Some mental health illnesses have big, fancy names and obvious symptoms, some are quiet and hard to notice even as you suffer from them, but they are all real.
I have PTSD. I didn’t know I had it for many years because I had always thought of PTSD as being for people with “real” problems caused by “real” trauma. I still now, thirteen years after I was assaulted, have intermittent depression and panic attacks. Today I had a flashback triggered simply by having to have a conversation with some with a similar accent to my attacker. Yep, something that small.
So I thought I would share with you my top 5 tips for managing your mental health. I hope they help!
1 – Do not be afraid of help. I cannot say this enough. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF HELP. Accept help from friends, family, doctors, therapists, work, anybody who is willing and able to offer help. Many people can’t manage their illnesses alone and and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Besides, even if you can do it alone, doesn’t mean you should. Why should you do it alone? Everything is better with friends, and that includes battling ill health. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF HELP. Did I get that across clearly enough?
2 – Do not be afraid of medication. Would you judge someone for taking medication every day if they had an under active thyroid? Would you judge someone for taking insulin every day if they had diabetes? Would you judge someone for taking painkillers if they have a chronic pain condition? Did you say no to all of those? If you did, then why would you judge someone for taking medication to help you regulate your mental health illness?
3 – Compliment yourself every day. Look yourself in the mirror, either in the morning or before bed if you struggle with negative thoughts when trying to sleep, and give yourself a compliment. This can be hard and at first you will think it silly and not believe them but give it time and this technique can be very powerful. If you’re struggling to think of things to say to yourself then try memorizing/jotting down nice things other people say to you and repeat them back to yourself (but remember to look at yourself, that’s important) or start by sticking these around your mirror while you build up to saying them out loud.
4 – The internet is a wonderful and dangerous thing. It has many pitfalls: the ability to feed hypochondria by self diagnosing everything from an insect bite to brain cancer, websites that encourage anorexia and other eating disorders, people who comment on posts about everything with gut churning vitriol and any meme tagged ‘funny’.* But the internet also has many wonderful things: blogs and forums dedicated to mental well being, online counselling, self care tools and supportive communities on places like Twitter and Tumblr. So, use with caution, but use none the less.
5 – Dance. This may sound like an odd one but seriously, dance. We all know the science about how exercise=endorphins=happiness but exercise is often booooooooring. Dancing is not. You don’t need to be good, you don’t need to go out to a club or a class, you don’t need to have a partner. I strongly recommend doing this in the morning while you’re getting ready, preferably in your underwear. Do it alone, avoid mirrors so you don’t worry about how you look, put on a great song and just let go! Shimmy, shake, bounce, twist, twerk. If you have mobility issues sit down and dance with just your good limbs or just twist on the spot. If you really can’t manage then put on a good song, close your eyes and imagine dancing – if it burns calories, why shouldn’t it also raise moods? DANCE!
If you have any other tips you want to share please comment and feel free to share this post!
*If you ever want to be horrified I suggest you play this game: google image search the word funny and see how many memes it takes before you see something racist. I bet its single figures.